Local stations’ sweeps numbers hit by writers’ strike

Affiliates – who depend on their network’s prime-time programs to draw viewers to their late newscasts – suffered ratings declines during the just-concluded February sweeps as the writer’s strike forced the networks into reruns and were forced to air less-appealing reality shows.

Judging by the few markets available for review, NBC affiliates seemed to be affected less, thanks to a somewhat-resurgent network lineup thanks to the popularity of Deal or No Deal and American Gladiators, and the success of the Tonight Show With Jay Leno sans writers, while ABC and CBS affiliates were hurt more with their most popular shows in reruns.

As a result, NBC stations held on to their posts in late news, with many stations even showing increases from their network lead-ins.

As noted in a few posts below this one, NBC affiliate WTMJ won the 10 p.m. news race in Milwaukee, while WGN-TV beat all competitors from 5 to 9 a.m. here in Chicago this month, including ABC-owned WLS-TV (keep in mind WLS did tie WGN at 6 a.m.). Bad weather throughout the entire month drew viewers to local news in these markets – though ratings still do not match those of a year ago, as many viewers have a wealth of viewing choices at their disposal.

Here are sweeps results from a few other markets:

Philadelphia: Despite its parent network missing many of its popular shows, ABC-owned WPVI continued to dominate the ratings, doing something sister station WLS in Chicago couldn’t even do – sweep all news dayparts. The loser: CBS-owned KYW-TV, which saw its ratings drop after firing controversial anchor Alicia Lane. Fox-owned WTXF also had a good book, with American Idol, Judge Judy, and the station’s 10 p.m. newscast doing quite well (the 5 p.m. newscast however, still trails its competitors, tying WPSG-TV’s People’s Court in the process.)

Boston: NBC affiliate WHDH wins at 11, but ABC affiliate WCVB wins in other time slots. Fox-owned WFXT had a great month with Fox prime-time programming, and its 10 p.m. newscast drawing as many viewers as competing prime-time shows.

Washington, D.C.: NBC-owned WRC-TV bounced back from a so-so November sweeps and beat ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in the nation’s capital. WJLA however, saw ratings increases in many of its newscasts. Fox-owned WTTG benefited from Fox’s prime-time lineup, with its 10 p.m. news drawing more viewers than the affiliates 11 p.m. newscasts, and drew more viewers than WRC at 5 a.m.

Detroit: The motor city actually bucked the nationwide trend this February, with all three news stations showing increases for the month, thanks to hot local stories and cold, bad weather. NBC affiliate WDIV won at 11 p.m. over ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV, with Fox’s WJBK drawing more viewers to its newscasts thanks to – all together now – American Idol and the Super Bowl. WDIV tied WXYZ at 5 p.m. despite no revelant lead-in while WXYZ won total-day household ratings. On the other hand, CBS-owned (and news-less) WWJ-TV finished way behind its other competitors.

Denver: What goes up in Detroit, comes down in Denver (and that includes the Colorado Avalanche.) February was a tough time to be a TV station, as many of Denver’s outlets tumbled in the ratings, with the 10 p.m. newscasts on the three network affiliates – and total-day viewing in the market among broadcast stations – hitting a record low share. NBC affiliate KUSA-TV dominated and KMGH was in the Nielsen basement as usual, while Fox affiliate KDVR won prime. Of note is KUSA tying Oprah on CBS-owned KCNC-TV at 4 p.m. with a 12 share.

Orlando: Despite a lack of fresh popular programming at ABC, WFTV continued to dominate news time periods and total-day ratings sans prime, which went to Fox.

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